I keep coming across Christians who have ditched their faith, in part or in some cases altogether. While I’m sure that it’s natural for people to occasionally switch faiths or to become non-believers (e.g. become agnostics or atheists), this phenomena appears to be something different. It seems to be especially prevalent with respect to Christian Fundamentalism. So let’s try and break it down:
The origins of religion
Man has always had a psychological need to believe in a higher power. For example, the concept of a higher power provides people with some meaning to their existence and a rough explanation of the world they live in. Religion, then, must give its members a reason to have faith (in its religious doctrine). In order for that to happen, those members must first believe – believe that their religion, above all others, is privy to the Word of God and believe that their holy book is the one and only authentic book of God. I’m talking about the one and only.
Now, belief is a funny thing. For example, to have even a shred of legitimacy, religion must have some kind of moral authority. Is it any wonder then that religions generally have started with a vision of God, or perhaps angels? After all, absolute moral authority can really only come from, what the Bible calls, a Most High God (see Luke 8:28). Aside: The inference, by the way, is that there are gods who are below the Most High God (for example, Yahweh/Jehovah).
In ancient times, man worshipped the sun because it was the obvious source of life. The concept of sun worship is even in the Bible, where in Psalm 84:11 it says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield.” The pagan belief was that the sun died on the winter solstice (December 22nd) because on that day the sun reached its lowest point in the heavens. The sun was then considered to be “dead and buried” for three days because it stayed at this lowest point on the horizon during that time. When the sun once again made its way higher in the heavens on December 25th, it was said to have been born again (resurrected). Accordingly, December 25th was eventually celebrated as Sol Invictus Day, the day honoring the sun God. Most religions are basically a corruption of astral theology and the worship of the sun. Long before there was Christianity, the Egyptians worshipped Ra, the sun god. One of the sons of Ra was the god Osiris who mythologically was considered to be a dying and rising savior god (i.e. he was resurrected from the dead). The Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, circa 1400 BC, was credited with being the first to propose a monotheistic concept. Moses, an Egyptian himself regardless of his genetic heritage, took that monotheistic concept with him when he left Egypt and later it would surface as part of Judaism’s belief system. Eventually, a small monastic order of Jews would help the monotheistic concept morph into what is now Christianity.
Christianity and its ever-changing Word of God
The Christian belief system has gone through many transformations over time. First, the world had Pauline Christianity. Then thanks to the Roman Emperor Constantine, we got Roman Catholicism. Later the Eastern Orthodox Church would split from Rome. Note: Today the Eastern Orthodox Church is the 3rd largest denomination in Christianity. After the Reformation, Protestantism in its many flavors/denominations would also break away from the Roman Catholic Church. However, it has only been in the last 100 years or so that Fundamentalism has tried to redefine Christianity.
The changing face of Christian beliefs belie whether or not there is such a thing as a true Word of God. For example, if one were to believe as the fundamentalists do, then what does one make of the first 1,500 years of Christianity? The only conclusion that one could come to is that Christians did not understand the Word of God for the first 1,500 years of Christianity! This implies that, during that same period, Christians were hardly better than non-believers. Would they even have been saved?
The great mystery surrounding the Word of God
The Bible, itself, merely adds to the confusion. For example, which Bible of the many different editions is the one and only Word of God? There are generally different Bibles for different branches of Christianity. The original Bible was the Catholic Bible which has 17 more books than most Protestant Bibles. So, for the first 1,000 years, or so, of Christianity, the Catholic Bible was the only Word of God. But for most Christians today, the Catholic Bible is not considered to be the Word of God.
Then there is the little problem of bible content, specifically the so-called mysteries of the Kingdom of God (the esoteric wisdom of the ages). It was none other than church father Clement of Alexandria who admitted that Christianity withheld this esoteric wisdom from the masses (the most that the masses ever got was a Bible). As he said, it was only taught to the very few – “to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.” Aside: The great mysteries, of course, was a secret society which was made available only to certain “highly enlightened” individuals.
The Bible, itself, also says that this wisdom about the Kingdom of God was withheld from the masses. A couple of examples of this are as follows:
- “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew….” – Corinthians 2:6-8
Aside: So here Paul says that he does not speak about the wisdom of the ages even to the mature, and that this wisdom when it is spoken (in private) is done so only in a mystery, meaning that it is heavily disguised in symbolism and allegory.
- “To you, the disciples, it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, the masses, it has not been given.” – Matthew 13:11
Aside: So Jesus told the disciples, and only the disciples, about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Of course, it’s clearly understood from the Bible that the disciples did not understand the teachings of Jesus which were in the form of parables.
An example of the biblical stories which were disguised with symbolism and allegory is the resurrection of Jesus. It was early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria (in On First Principles) who said that the resurrection related to the spirit, not the mortal body. He considered the concept of a resurrection to be for those that did not have “eyes to see and ears to hear”. The “eyes to see and ears to hear”, of course, was a reference to one of Jesus’ well-known parables.
Accordingly, the Bible has many surface stories which were quite often based on mythology. It’s no wonder then that in Judaism they believe that the Old Testament needs to be reinterpreted. That’s why the rabbis of ancient times authored the Talmud – to explain what the Old Testament meant. I’m not necessarily endorsing the Talmud, but rather pointing out that Jewish holy men felt compelled to tell people that the Old Testament was not the whole story. Beneath the symbolism and mythology, there was another message which was hidden from the unenlightened. I guess they should know, since Jewish holy men wrote the Old Testament (i.e. the Jewish Bible).
So, then, why are some people leaving Christianity? To begin with, young people are far more enlightened than their parents or their grandparents were. They recognize that there are inconsistencies in the Bible. They therefore find it hard, if not impossible, to accept that the Bible is the unerring Word of God. They also ask tough questions. They want, and need, an explanation for all the evil and hardship in the world. For example, many of them would like to know why a baby has to suffer and die a horrible death – because of Original Sin? Then, there’s the age-old question of whether God is the source of evil.
Christianity has been unable to satisfy many of their parishioners on these important questions. People are tired of the worn-out euphemisms that are trotted out each Sunday in church. They long for a more satisfactory answer to the questions about creation and the meaning of life. It’s no longer sufficient just to say that God works in mysterious ways. People are searching for the truth and, perhaps on some intuitive level, many of them realize that there is a problem with the church’s message. For sure, they know that they have been unable to find God. So many of them have left the church and now label themselves as agnostic or atheist.
The lack of a charismatic leader has hampered the church in consolidating its faith under one umbrella. Certainly, the Pope would like to be that person but the Catholic Church has little standing in much of the Christian world. However, unlike the Protestant churches, the Vatican is taking a leading role in trying to reshape Christianity given the new realities of the world that we live in. They have made a startling public statement that Christians will have to reevaluate their faith and come to a new understanding of the Bible. That statement was made in an interview entitled “The Extraterrestrial Is My Brother.” I’ll let you connect the dots.
Such a statement strongly suggests that the Vatican knows a lot more than what they are telling the masses. Perhaps one day they will even tell us who the “gods” are who are not the Most High God (see above). Perhaps they will tell us that those “gods’ are our brothers, genetically speaking. They could even point to the Bible that we should have known as much all along (see the Genesis 6:2-4 reference to the bene ha’elohim). One thing is for certain, though. If their statement that Christians will have to reevaluate their faith is true, there will certainly be a flood of worshipers exiting Christianity.
“Men fight about religion on earth; in heaven they shall find out that there is only one true religion – the worship of God’s Spirit.”
– Max Muller
If I had a dollar for every time a minister said, “And last night God talked to me”, I’d be a rich man. Oddly enough, the only one who might actually be able to prove that he talked to God is Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty).
Funny thing is, though, no one has yet to actually describe him (God, that is). Considering that so many people are literally dying to see God, you’d think that someone would have described him by now. Then, again, perhaps as the Apostle John said, “No one has ever seen God.” So what, then, should one make of all the biblical stories about God. Well, let’s start at the beginning.
In the beginning there was God, and only God. There was no sound, no color, no matter. Then, God supposedly uttered the now famous words, “Let there be light.”(Genesis 1:3). So, tell me, who exactly was there to hear those words. After all, man had not yet been created. That didn’t happen until Genesis 1:26.
There are so many things that we don’t know about God. Here’s a very brief list, although there is obviously much more:
- What does God look like?
- Is God really a man?
- Why did God violate his own commandments?
- Why did God even need a covenant with the Israelites? Indeed, why would God ever need a covenant with his creation? Actually, there were several covenants, since the Israelites never seemed to live up to their side of the bargain; so why would God keep giving them second chances even though he obviously knew the outcome?
Now, I could answer all of those questions but what would be the point. Who would believe me anyway? Certainly, not anyone who has already been indoctrinated with a holy book, that’s for sure. Besides, as Brian McLaren said, the answers would be very unsettling to the average Christian.
Since we know virtually nothing about God (does anyone even have his email address?), how would we know God if we met him. Is he big or small? What color hair and skin does he have? Is he really a Him, or rather a She or an It? That being the case, if we had an other-wordly experience, how would we know that it was God who entered our life? Perhaps, it was an angel, maybe even a Fallen Angel; or maybe it was a demon…or the Devil himself. How could we possibly tell the difference?
In that vein, why should we believe that Joseph Smith talked to an angel (resulting in the Mormon religion)? How did he know that it was an angel, since he had never met one before? Actually, most of the people in the world don’t believe Smith, since Mormons number only about 15 million worldwide . Aside: The vast majority of Mormons were born to Mormon parents so they were conditioned to believe church doctrine from an early age.
So how about Mohammed who supposedly talked to an angel (culminating in Islam)? Well, most of the world apparently doesn’t believe him either, since there are only 1.6 billion Muslims. Aside: Of course, the vast majority of them were raised as Muslims because their parents were Muslims as well.
Then there was Abraham and Moses who brought us Judaism. How many Jews are there in the world after all? The answer is that there are only 14 million Jews in the world. Aside: I don’t know any non-Jewish people who practice Judaism.
Finally, we have Christianity which came to the world mostly thanks to one man, Paul, who had a vision of a man (Jesus) whom he had never met. How did he know that his vision was of Jesus? The answer is because the vision supposedly told him so. Nonetheless, Paul apparently was somewhat believable as today there are 2.2 billion Christians. Of course, that means that 4.7 billion people don’t believe the vision of Paul, and why should they? Does anyone today even know Paul? Of course not. Do we know anyone who knew him? Obviously not. Even if we knew him, why would we believe him? What makes his vision worthy of consideration when the visions of others have been discounted? His story may or may not have been factual and even if it was factual it may have been completely misunderstood by Paul himself. After all, he never saw anyone, only a voice from an invisible entity – a voice coming out of nowhere. So because Paul had this vision, suddenly his every word became gospel. His concept of God and the man, Jesus, he never met (at least not in the flesh) was believed over all the holy men of the day. This is the kind of thing that usually only happens in cults. A charismatic figure says that he is the second coming, of whoever, and he attracts a group of loyal followers. Even today there are people who say that they are the reincarnation of Jesus and some people actually believe them.
Paul’s Christianity originally went under the label of Roman Catholicism, thanks to the Roman emperor Constantine who used it to consolidate his power and his empire. There were no Protestants back then and actually no Protestants for another 1,000 years or so thereafter. For Protestants today, their form of Christianity is a “hijacked” version of Catholicism. Oddly enough, then, the Word of God for the first 1,000 years of Christianity has been replaced by… well, by a myriad of other definitions and interpretations of the Word of God. There’s actually a different Word of God for each of the many Protestant denominations. With so many denominations, everybody gets to define the Word of God in their own way.
Of course, Protestants don’t necessarily agree with the Vatican when it comes to the central tenets of Christianity. For that, we can thank primarily one man, Martin Luther – and he never even had a vision. So why did anyone believe him? Other than being a monk, what was his claim to fame and why should he have been believed over all others?
The history books would say that the Reformation was a rebellion against the power of the Pope and the Catholic Church. So once again politics played a major role in Christianity – from Emperor Constantine to Martin Luther. Of course, the Pope and the Vatican are still major players on the world stage today. They recently made a public statement that Christians will have to reevaluate their faith and come to a new understanding of the Bible. Pretty shocking stuff, right? I could tell you why they believe that but what would be the point? After all, does anyone really want to hear that the Word of God didn’t actually come from God? The Vatican understands this and they know that full disclosure is not too far off.
So in the meantime on a clear night in the Arizona desert, on sacred Native American land literally stolen from the Apaches, the Vatican’s top astronomer and his minions are busy searching the heavens through their new billion dollar telescope named Lucifer. Yes, they named their expensive, new toy Lucifer, of all things. So why does the Vatican have to spend such an outlandish amount of money on a telescope when people are starving to death in the world? Well, the Bible says that God arrives from the heavens – just ask Ezekiel. Obviously, the Vatican is expecting God/Lucifer to return, and soon.
Regardless, some people will only believe what their holy book tells them. They point to the visions of their prophets and recite the legends of those who have supposedly spoken to God. Now, if they could only just describe God to the rest of us, maybe the world might actually believe them.
– Joseph Campbell
The reaction to my recent post The Gods That Never Were was not exactly what I might have expected, especially the part about Cain. So here’s a slightly different rendition which is based solely on the Bible:
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) Note: God didn’t say that he was going to make man in his image, but rather in “our” image. So, who else was there (in the beginning) that had a key part in Creation? Keep in mind that it had to be someone with the same image and likeness as God. In addition, whoever it was also had to look like man since man was supposedly made in the image and likeness of the creator god.
“Then God said, ‘I give you… every tree that has fruit and seed in it. They will be yours for food.’” (Genesis 1:29) and “And the Lord God commanded the man…’you must not eat from the Tree of Knowledge…for when you eat from it you will surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17). Note: So God gave man the Tree of Knowledge and then took it back. What was he afraid of?
“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us.” (Genesis 3:22). Note: So man was somehow elevated to the level of a god (which is confirmed in Genesis 3:5). Now we know what he was afraid of.
“…and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. (Genesis 4:1) and “This is the written account of Adam’s family line…When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” (Genesis 5:1-5). Note: The Bible never says that Cain and Abel were the children of Adam. However, it does say that they were children of Eve and it also says that Eve had “gotten” Cain from God (the Lord).
“ Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.” (John 3:12) and “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) Note: The Bible thus confirms that Adam was not the father of Cain as the father of Cain was a murderer and was referred to as “that wicked one”.
To recap, two or more entities who had the same image and likeness of man created mankind. There apparently wasn’t much of a difference between these creators and mankind since the creators acknowledged that man could (and did) attain the same level of godhood as them. Cain and Abel were not fathered by Adam but were the direct result of the actions of one of the creator gods. In the case of Cain, that creator god was not considered to be a very nice person, to say the least. In any event, he certainly could not have been Adam, or even God for that matter.
However, they certainly could have been the fathers of the sons of God, as it was described in the Bible. The sons of God (bene ha’elohim) made their first appearance in the Bible as follows: “The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves… when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them….”(Genesis 6: 2-4). The elohim (a plural term) were the gods of the Genesis creation story and the Hebrew word elohim was generally translated as the Lord (a singular term) in Genesis 2. So what we have is the gods of Genesis 2 who spawned the sons of the gods of Genesis 6. As it says in Psalm 82:6, “I (Jehovah) have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High”.
So where does that leave us? Well, the Bible says that, “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance…For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob (Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:8-9) Well, the Bible is clearly saying that the god of the Bible is not God, the Prime Creator (the Most High). So maybe there’s some truth to the Gospel of Judas, the spot where Jesus tells the disciples that they were praying to a creator god, but not to God, the Prime Creator. Perhaps, that’s why his true teachings were ultimately suppressed.
Some scientists actually agree with the Bible on parts of this issue. For example, Francis Crick, a world-famous biologist who won the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecular structure of DNA, said that life on Earth was intentionally seeded by an extraterrestrial race (read: the elohim). Then there’s a recent DNA study from the Harvard Medical School, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, which found that ancient man had sex with a still unknown species. This species was, in fact, the bene ha’elohim. They walked like men and talked like men, just like their fathers, the elohim, did in the Garden of Eden; and like their fathers they also mated with human females.
All of which confirms that man really was created in the image of the gods, and descended from them as well. It’s just that none of these creator gods were actually G-d. The next question, of course, is just who created them? Will the real God please stand up.
“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many).”
– 1 Corinthians 8:5
The Pascal Wager states that, “If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible.” However, I think that it is possible to deduce some things about God through the use of logic and negative inference. So with apologies to deists everywhere, here are ten things that I know about God:
10. God is not a man. After all, men wrote the Bible and so, of course, God is always described as Him. One does have to wonder, though, where the first X and Y chromosomes came from.
9. God doesn’t get migraines or have a bad-hair day. However, God might be bi-polar since he did destroy his own creation.
8. God is not omniscient. God didn’t know that his own “perfect” creation would turn out to be imperfect and have to be destroyed. It actually sounds more like an experiment gone terribly awry. In hindsight, though, we should have guessed as much since after creating man, God saw that “it was good”. Really, don’t you think that he should have known that his creation would have been good in advance (before he created it)? Even then, he was wrong about it being good, wasn’t he?
7. God isn’t a very good parent. In the Genesis story, God told his children not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. When they did, he punished them severely (life in prison, so to speak). Of course, since God didn’t teach them right from wrong, there was no way for them to comprehend the concepts of good and evil; in short, they didn’t understand that disobedience was bad. If something similar would have happened today, the parent would certainly have been charged with child abuse, wouldn’t they? In any event, I think that God qualifies as an absentee parent since he hasn’t visited his children in 3,000 years, give or take.
6. God was an “Indian giver.” First, God gave man the Tree of Knowledge (i.e. Genesis 1:29 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you… every tree that has fruit and seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”). Then later, God took the gift back (i.e. Genesis 2:16,17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man…’you must not eat from the Tree of Knowledge…for when you eat from it you will surely die.’” ). Of course, God lied about the dying part, now didn’t he?
5. See the end of #6.
4. God is the source of evil. For this one a little background is required. That is, in the beginning all there was was God. Nothing else; God and only God. By definition, then, evil could have only come from God, notwithstanding the church’s absurd dogma of “creation out of nothing.” Creation out of nothing was the church’s rationalization as to how something that is evil (man) could have come from something that is perfect (God). However, as Roman philosopher Lucretius said, “Nothing comes from nothing.”
Regardless of whether or not God created man out of nothing, he certainly intended to create evil, as he is presumably all-powerful and all-knowing. The Bible actually confirms this (e.g.“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” – Isaiah 45:7).
3. The god of the Bible has a split personality. The god of the Old Testament acts totally different from the god of the New Testament. Further, the god of the Old Testament walked and talked with Adam and Eve, Abraham and Moses. He even wrestled with Jacob. To prove his godhood, he would kill innocent men, women and children. People feared him, obviously for good reason. As opposed to that, the god of the New Testament was considered to be spirit only, according to Paul and the Book of John. It is not surprising, then, that John said that no man had ever seen God. I guess one can infer from what he said that the Old Testament stories were not true and, therefore, not the Word of God.
… or could it just simply be that the god of the Old Testament and the god of the New Testament refer to two different entities.
2. God has never interfered in the affairs of man. If he had, it would be a violation of man’s free will. You can’t have it both ways. Either man has free will or he is merely some form of artificial intelligence. For sure, God never ordered up any tsunamis.
1. The god of the bible is not God, the Prime Creator. See prior posts for details.
The great French philosopher Voltaire said it best when he said that, “ If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” I believe that Voltaire was correct, although there’s more to the story. To be more precise, God does exist but man invented him anyway. As John said, no one has ever seen God; so man created God in his own image.
Is scientific inquiry meaningful if it never leads to a discovery of what caused the universe to exist in the first place? That is, what’s the point (no pun intended) of proving that there is no point to life? In that vein, it was theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg who said, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.”
So here’s my question: Why does Weinberg, and scientists like him, keep trying? What is the objective of their scientific inquiries? Is there a purpose to any of it? In a perverse sort of way, I think there is. You see, there are many different disciplines in science, but really only two kinds of scientists – those who believe in a Creator and ultimately are trying to prove it through their research and those who don’t believe in a Creator and are trying to prove that one doesn’t exist – to wit, life is pointless.
Two rather interesting viewpoints on this issue from giants of the scientific community are those of Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. It was Hawking who said that, “One can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but science makes God unnecessary” and Einstein who declared that, “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe – a spirit vastly superior to that of man….” Oddly enough, Hawking’s comment does tend to somewhat confirm what Einstein said about a spirit being manifest in the universe. It was Dr. E, himself, who first posited that space and time were constructs (somebody built them). More recently, theoretical theorist Dr. James Gates said that his research shows that certain theories which describe the fundamental nature of the universe contain embedded computer codes. Then there is cosmologist Max Tegmark who says that our external physical reality is a mathematical structure and physicist Paul Davies who stated that, “The universe conforms to an orderly scheme.” More on them later.
Scientific American’s recent article entitled “2 Futures Can Explain Time’s Mysterious Past” is a fascinating article about two competing theories that would revolutionize our idea about time. The problem with the two theories is that they both assume that the universe is a closed system. Accordingly, both theories will always contain anomalies because they exclude that which exists outside of our universe. I say outside of our universe because even theoretical physics now encompasses ideas of other worlds, be they parallel universes, the Multiverse or whatever. So if you can’t incorporate what lies outside of our universe in your scientific theory, then you can never comprehensively define how the universe was created or exactly how it all works.
Aye, there’s the rub because science, by definition, can never prove anything that it can’t observe. John Horgan discussed this very issue of the limitations in science in his book The End of Science. The implication is that science will, if it hasn’t already, hit a wall beyond which it can only speculate. The upshot is that for scientists the rest of Creation (that which is beyond our universe) is unobservable and therefore God, if he exists, will forever be unknowable.
Aside: That is, you can’t scientifically prove whether God exists or not.
Of course, philosophers generally don’t have the same constraints as scientists. It was Time magazine which some years back published the story “Modernizing the Case for God.” In that article, it discussed that philosophers are reexamining the case for God. For many, that discussion harkens back to the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument which was named for its author Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who was one of the great thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Leibniz posited that everything that exists has an explanation for its existence and since we exist there’s an explanation for our existence.
Aside: Another way of understanding the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument is to say that our existence is not found in its own necessity and therefore has to have an external cause.
Today, many scientists painfully realize their dilemma. As Lincoln Barnett wrote in The Universe and Dr. Einstein, “ Along with philosophers’ reduction of all objective reality to a shadow-world of perceptions, scientists have become aware of the alarming limitations of man’s senses.” Despite that, it hasn’t kept them from trying to fathom the unfathomable and to comprehend the incomprehensible. However incomplete, the work of Einstein, Gates, Tegmark and Davies (see above) do have one rather remarkable thing in common – an understanding that there is an underlying order in the cosmos; to wit, somebody or something constructed space/time, was responsible for the computer codes embedded in the fundamental laws of the universe, and created mathematics and the structured order of the universe. In other words, there is an intelligence in the universe. In the words of Leibniz, the universe does not exist because of its own necessity so it must have an external cause – and that external cause implies intelligence (or even vice versa).
This intelligence has been downplayed by various people, in some cases referring to it as Nature or the Natural Laws of the Universe. But as Einstein observed, there can be no laws without a lawgiver. So, I think that it’s high time that this intelligence gets a name. As I’ve suggested before, perhaps we could call it Bubba. However, for some, God might do just as well.
“The universe does not exist ‘out there,’ independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators.”
- John Wheeler, physicist
Down through the ages man has struggled with his finite mind to comprehend the Infinite. Accordingly, man invented religion and concepts like omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence to describe God. These concepts are based merely on man’s “perceptions” of the Absolute. However, the Absolute transcends the power of human perception (i.e. it’s impossible for the finite to conceive of the infinite). As Joseph Campbell said, “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.”
Great thinkers like Socrates and Plato realized that it was illogical to try to conceptualize the Absolute. By definition, the Absolute can neither think or act – those are human attributes and to have those attributes would make one finite. So what then do we make of the Bible and the Genesis story of creation, especially the part where God “walks” in the garden and “talks” to Adam and Eve.
History vs. myth
To begin with, religion is basically constructed myth. It was none other than St. Paul who said that men had become vain in their imagination and had changed God into an image made like themselves. So the Word of God is, in actuality, simply the word of man about God and nothing more. However, these myths were sometimes based on historical events, misunderstood though they may have been. Take the Bible for example. It supposedly says that Cain was the first-born from Adam and Eve with Eve saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD” (Genesis 4:1). Unfortunately, that’s all that it says about such a remarkable event – the conception of man’s “first child”. Actually, though, the writings of the ancient Hebrews contained a lot more about this topic but those writings were intentionally excluded from the Bible, along with the Book of Enoch (as Enoch was the son of Cain – see Genesis 4:17).
Side Note: All writings that discussed man’s genetic descendancy from the “gods” were excluded from the Bible (for obvious reasons).
Actually, Cain’s birthright is the biggest scandal in the Bible, one that the scribes intentionally downplayed. It’s not discussed in any detail because to do otherwise would alert the reader that God/ the Lord/ Jehovah was the real father of Cain. So let’s try and break it down.
In Genesis 5:1-5, it says that, “This is the written account of Adam’s family line…When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” There is no mention anywhere of Cain and Abel in the family tree. What an incredible omission unless…
Adam was not the father of Cain and Abel.
Where else was there a mention of the father of Cain and Abel? Well, in the Apocryphon of John, it states that Eve was seduced by the supreme deity, Yaldabaoth, who then fathered two sons with her. Then there is the Gospel of Philip which says, “And (Cain) was begotten in adultery, (for) he was the son of the serpent.” Other ancient Jewish esoteric teachings (such as the Zohar) and the Talmud, itself, are much more informative about this issue and state that Cain was the son of an angel of the Lord by the name of Samael, who is referred to as the serpent.
Even in the Bible, there remain snippets of this story. For example in 1 John 3:12 it says, “ Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother” (emphasis mine). So once again the reference to Cain’s father being the evil one or the serpent. Even Jesus said something similar: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him “(Gospel of John 8:44).
The skeleton in the closet of Adam and Eve is that a god fathered Cain while Adam sired Seth, whose line led to King David and Jesus. So Cain was the royal seed of the “gods” while Seth was the first son of Man (Adam). The conflict between these two bloodlines has reverberated down through history and is still being played out today.
So a god fathered Cain and Abel, not Adam. To be more precise, it was a Sumerian god. Perhaps, a little background is in order. The Old Testament was first written down around 500 BC. Prior to that, the biblical stories were passed down from generation to generation as oral tradition. That oral tradition came from Sumeria through Abraham and his descendants (see my prior posts for details). Sumerian texts have the complete story of creation called The Seven Tablets of Creation which give the real story of how Homo sapiens was created and who fathered Cain, Abel and Seth. The kicker is that the Sumerian gods weren’t really gods at all, but rather a highly advanced race of physical life forms. Therefore, mankind really was created in the image and likeness of the “gods”.
Where goest thou Christianity?
So exactly where does that leave Christianity? Well, when your minister starts his sermon with “And last night God talked to me”, you can be sure that it never happened; neither was anyone present when God supposedly said, “Let there be light”. In the Bible, there are many stories about God – stories where he “appeared” to various people. What’s missing from those stories is any description about God, any description at all. Think of it. Everyone is in search of God and yet those who “find” him don’t even bother to describe him!
The reason as John says is that, “ No one has ever seen God” (Gospel of John 1:18 ) and that, “God is spirit” (Gospel of John 4:24). Paul echoes John’s concept of an invisible God (see Colossians 1:15) and then goes on to say that, “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Nevertheless, some Christians still insist that the Bible is literally the Word of God and that God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Yet, all one has to do is to read the Bible to understand that it can’t all be the Word of God since some passages stand in stark opposition to others. In particular, the god of Genesis is the polar opposite of the god of the New Testament, the god of John and Paul. One is as human as any human, (i.e. emotional, vain and prone to violence). The other is all-loving and all-good.
Side Note: If the all-loving and all-good god was the Absolute, then where did evil come from?
Both of these gods are simply man’s “perception” about God – an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible. To be intellectually honest, Christianity needs to choose between these two gods as you can’t have both, although neither is really the Prime Creator. They also need to admit that Genesis, with its concept of the Creation, was borrowed from older Sumerian texts. The inconvenient truth is that the God(s) of Genesis is not God, the Prime Creator. All they ever were, and will be, is what I call “the gods that never were.”
“Beyond all finite experiences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other ideas are grounded.”
P.S. Of course, Plato was talking about the First Cause/Prime Creator who can not be found in any holy book.
You may have seen on the news lately that there’s a new book that has been published called The Lost Gospel, which is supposedly based on the discovery of an ancient manuscript. It adds fuel to the fire which resulted from the discovery in 2012 of The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. In both cases, the premise is that Jesus had a wife. If true, that would certainly be a big problem for Christianity. While these two works certainly don’t come close to proving that Jesus was married, I believe that the Bible, itself, said that he did. Here’s why.
The prevailing Jewish culture and custom (at that time), dictated that all men had to marry. Jesus would have been no exception. Marriages were actually arranged by the parents. Besides, the New Testament doesn’t say that Jesus never had a wife. Since it would have been extremely unusual if he wasn’t married, the Bible certainly would have mentioned it if that were the case. Perhaps more to the point, the Church controlled which scriptures would be included in the Bible and which ones wouldn’t. That’s why works like the Gospel of Philip were left out of the Bible since it implied an intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. As the Gospel of Philip says, “The companion of the Saviour is Mary Magdalene. Christ loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth”.
Mary Magdalene is one of most maligned and misunderstood figures in history so you may be surprised to know that:
- St. Augustine, one of the greatest figures of the Christian church, called her the “Apostle to the apostles”.
- Mary Magdalene is one of the most painted and sculpted of all classical figures.
- The Gospel of Philip declared that she was the consort of Jesus: “There were three who always walked with the Lord: Mary his mother and her sister and Magdalene, the one who was called his companion.”
- According to Luke (Gospel of Luke 24:9-10) and John (Gospel of John 20:2,18), the apostles were first informed of the resurrection of Jesus by none other than Mary Magdalene herself.
- According to Mark (Gospel of Mark 16:9) and John (Gospel of John 20:11-17), Mary Magdalene is the first witness to see Jesus after the resurrection.
- Mary Magdalene was also there at the foot of the cross, was there at the burial of Jesus and the first to visit the tomb after his death (according to the Gospel of John).
- Mary Magdalene is considered to be the author of the Gospel of Mary.
Whoever Mary Magdalene was, she obviously was a person of great importance in the story of Jesus and the Christian movement (e.g. in the Gospel of Philip she is referred to as the symbol of divine wisdom). It’s just as obvious that the Church has gone to great lengths to discredit her. What could they be hiding?
The bride and the groom
So if Jesus was married, why isn’t his marriage recorded in the Bible? Well, the Church has done its best to edit out of the Bible anything that does not conform with its dogma. However, it may have missed a thing or two (e.g. the wedding in Cana in the Gospel of John). At that wedding, Mary, the mother of Jesus, came to him asking for more wine. This would only have happened if she were the hostess. By custom then, she would have asked the person responsible for the wine, in this case the groom/Jesus, to fulfill the request – which she did (see John 2:3).
The Holy Grail
“And that child of Jesus and Mary Magdalene is known today as The Holy Grail.” – Gospel of Philip
So if Jesus was married he would have to have had children because it was Jewish custom that marriages produce children. Further, being a descendant of King David, it was mandatory that Jesus continue the royal Davidic bloodline by having at least two sons. So then, why aren’t they mentioned in the Bible you might ask? Keep in mind that the Christian movement of the disciples was considered heretical by the establishment (by both Jews and Romans). So, the gospels were sometimes written so as to disguise the names of places and people that were being written about.
The New Testament mentions that “the Word of God has increased” (Acts 6:4) and that “the Word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). Since Jesus was referred to as the Word of God (for example, see the Gospel of John), I think the only reasonable conclusion is that these are references to the birth of a child of Jesus (actually two different children). I believe that one of his children was a son named Jesus Justus (see Colossians 4:10-11) with Justus being a title given to the Davidic crown prince. I also believe that there was a second son because custom would require that the heir to the Davidic line have at least two sons (for succession purposes).
So if Jesus survived the crucifixion, married and had a family with Mary Magdalene, how does one explain the Resurrection?
To begin with, the New Testament does not include an actual account of the resurrection (i.e. the exact moment thereof). In addition, an empty tomb proves nothing other than the body was missing. Actually, there is nothing mysterious about the body being missing. When Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb, the tomb was open and soon thereafter she found Jesus standing outside of the tomb. So of course the body was not inside the cave as he was already outside of it.
Brian McLaren, a Christian theologian, said that, “One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.” A couple of examples of what he was talking about are as follows:
- Early Christian theologian Origen of Alexandria (in On First Principles) said that the resurrection related to the spirit, not the mortal body. He considered the concept of a resurrection to be for those that did not have eyes to see and ears to hear.
- The Gospel of Mark in Christian bibles is a forgery! That is, everything after verse 16:8 of that gospel does not exist in the oldest versions of the Bible. This means that everything after verse 16:8 was added at a later date. So the original Gospel of Mark ended simply with an empty tomb and there was no resurrection story and there were no appearances; that would only come as the legend grew. By the time that the Gospel of Luke was written, there were competing versions of the story of Jesus (see Luke 1:1-4).
As for Paul, he did not believe in the resurrection of the physical body, but rather the spiritual body alone (i.e. he never mentions Jesus having been resurrected in the flesh). Given Paul’s concept of a Christ risen into a new, spiritual body, the resurrection becomes simply an article of faith – a path to inner spiritual knowledge. Some biblical passages from Paul on this matter are as follows:
- Paul tells us that he first came in contact with Jesus on the road to Damascus, not in the flesh you understand, but only a light and a voice. (Acts 9). Paul never met Jesus in the flesh.
- Paul describes how the body that dies is not the body that rises. The body that rises, according to Paul, is “a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:44).
- Finally, Paul states that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).
So there you have it from Origen, Mark and Paul. None of them believed that the Resurrection was a central tenet of Christianity. As for the epistles of James and Jude, the brothers of Jesus (see Mark 6:3), they did not mention a resurrection at all.
However, a retelling of the resurrection story would not be complete without mentioning one of the greatest inconsistencies of the Bible. In the Gospel of Mark 16:6, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb (which is empty) and an unidentified young man dressed in white says: “…You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.” Of course, the young man said that he was risen because Jesus was presumably dead and the body was missing. Since the tomb was open, though, the body of Jesus, be he dead or alive, could have been anywhere.
The Gospel of Luke is interesting because it refutes itself. We learn in Luke 24:4-6 that Mary Magdalene, among other women, sees two men in shining garments and the men tell them that Jesus has risen. However, in a retelling of the story in Luke 24:23, the two men are angels who tell the women that Jesus is alive. Obviously, then he is not yet risen.
However in the Gospel of John 20:12-13, there is no young man dressed in white but rather two angels dressed similarly in white (as in Luke’s story). There is a discussion between Mary and the angels but they don’t say that Jesus is risen. In fact as we find out later in the Gospel of John, Jesus, himself, says that he has not yet risen (John 20:17). Obviously, then he is alive! That’s consistent with Luke 24:23.
It’s obvious that both Mark and Luke are wrong about Jesus being risen at the tomb. Among other things, Jesus was not supposed to rise until the third day (according to scripture – see Luke 24:46). However, John has it’s own problem in that regards. For example, in John 21:14 it says that Jesus is risen from the dead but in John 20:26 it is obvious that this all occurred more than eight days after the crucifixion. Again, this hardly conforms to Jesus rising on the third day.
While the stories are inconsistent, the best evidence is that Jesus did not rise either directly or indirectly as a result of an empty tomb. This is because Jesus presumably said that he was not risen (John 20:17) which is consistent with the angels saying that Jesus was alive (Luke 24:23). Anyway, it was too early for him to have risen from the tomb (it was not yet the third day). Besides, according to the Gospel of John, Jesus was still alive outside the tomb at the time that his body went missing, at which time he conversed with Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-17).
The Book of Revelation and the divine right to rule
Down through history, kings were selected by the passing of the dynastic torch from father to son (i.e. from king to crown prince). “For example, the Bible speaks of a time when the sons of the gods married the daughters of men. From those unions, then, kings were born. From that time forward, royal bloodlines were firmly established. Therefore, kingly authority was based on blood or, more to the point, on DNA. Kingship was deemed to be a matter of genetic right” (A Dirty Little Secret – The Ethical Warrior). It’s therefore a question of who has a divine right to rule.
In Western Civilization, this divine right to rule has been the main factor in the rise and fall of ruling families and kingdoms. Political intrigue has often centered around assassination of royal figures, especially those who might be in line to succeed to the throne. Sometimes, the same thing was accomplished through one royal family marrying into another and eventually succeeding to the throne. A case-in-point is the British monarchy which is ruled by Germans, with the royal family actually composed of people from the German royal line of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.
What’s so important about the divine right to rule, you might ask? Because, all of these royal families trace their lineage back to the Bible! They actually trace their bloodline back to King David and beyond –arguably all the way back to the Fallen Angels. The implications are staggering.
This has a direct tie-in to the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is a highly encoded book which has been totally misunderstood by Christianity. It’s not about the Apocalypse and the End of Days – not at all. It’s actually about the bloodline which extends down from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The legacy of Jesus was his children (and their descendants). In the generations that followed, the legends grew in the search for the Holy Grail, the bloodline of Jesus.
In terms of religion, they were the rightful inheritors of the Kingdom of God, not the Church. Politically, they had the divine right to rule, to be king; and some actually were. Some of the biggest events in history (e.g. the Crusades and the Inquisition) were related to this drama which played out behind the scenes. It’s one of the biggest secrets in the history of mankind – a secret that many people don’t want you to know about…but, of course, now you know.
“ Those who say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died.”
– Gospel of Philip
The question for the ages is: Why is the Bible the Word of God? The answer is because the people who believe in the Bible say it is. Okay, so where exactly is the proof then? Well as Stuart Chase so aptly put it, “ For those who believe, no proof is necessary….”
No proof is necessary, you say? Why not? The answer is that when you’ve been indoctrinated with a belief system, your mind doesn’t require it; and doesn’t want it either! Proof is irrelevant when it comes to belief. So that if a person comes face to face with an indication that their belief system may be wrong, they simply ignore it or rationalize it away. One does not dare question their belief systems because to do so would be to undermine their own state of mind. Psychologically, you believe in a religious belief system not because it is correct but rather because you have a need to believe (in something, indeed in just about anything). Ludwig Feuerbach best explained it thusly, “Religion is the dream of the human mind.”
However, I have good reason to believe that there is a lot more to the Bible than what meets the eye. Sure, it has lots of inaccuracies and inconsistencies, as well as translation errors, and yes the interpretation of the actual words leave much to be desired. There’s that word – interpretation. It pops up every time one talks about religion. In Judaism for example, their faith is based on the Talmud, which is an interpretation of the Torah. The Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, is accepted at face value by most Christians but in Judaism it needs “interpretation”. Maybe, the question should be that if Judaism says the Torah needs to be reinterpreted, why don’t the Christians agree with them. After all, Jewish people wrote it!
Aside: No doubt that’s what George Bernard Shaw was referring to when he said that, “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says – he is always convinced that it says what he means.”
The Israelites didn’t believe that Jesus qualified as the messiah based on their own definition of a messiah; that in turn was based on their own tradition of prophecy. However, Christianity reinterpreted the Old Testament prophecies in order to have Jesus as their messiah. I say reinterpreted because Judaism would never have accepted a divine messiah since it has no basis in the Old Testament or in their culture, historically speaking.
Interpretation is the key. Holy books seemingly always have to be interpreted, and later reinterpreted to agree with the ideology du jour. Just go and talk to a Christian fundamentalist to see what I mean. That said, I’m going to try a little interpretation of my own.
The origins of the Israelites
The Old Testament wasn’t written down until the first century BC. That’s roughly 3,000 years after Adam and Eve, according to the chronology given in the Bible. Prior to that, the Old Testament stories were passed on orally from one generation to the next. So the oral traditions of the Israelites would have been handed down from their ancestors. According to the Bible, the patriarch of the Israelites/Hebrews was Abraham. Therefore, their culture, their history and their belief systems were handed down from or through him. Abraham, himself, was a Sumerian meaning that his family was from the area now generally known as Iraq (southern Iraq to be precise). We know that because the Bible said that he came originally from Ur (which was a city/state in what was then called Sumer). Therefore, the oral tradition of the Israelites had to have come from Sumerian history/mythology. The point to all of this is that the Genesis story is of Sumerian origin.
Here’s what people fail to understand and, if they understand it, they don’t realize the implications. That is, the Israelites were descendants of the Sumerians. To be more precise, they were Sumerians!
The Sumerians were the first advanced civilization on the planet (that we know of) and their writings are the oldest ever found. The Sumerians were far more advanced than even the great Greek civilization which came over 1,000 years later. The Sumerians wrote the very first creation story, the title of which was Enuma Elish (sometimes referred to as The Seven Tablets of Creation). Their creation story was written on six clay tablets with the seventh tablet devoted to honoring the Creator. That, of course, is exactly how the writer(s) of Genesis described the six days of creation with the Sabbath falling on the seventh day. The Sumerians also wrote the very first Flood story which was entitled the Epic of Gilgamesh. Both the Enuma Elish and the Epic of Gilgamesh are closely paralleled by the accounts of the Bible, which were written much later than their Sumerian counterparts.
It was the very same Sumerian gods mentioned in the Enuma Elish who brought with them this advanced civilization (wholly intact). By wholly intact, I mean that the Sumerian civilization appeared suddenly out of nowhere, with no antecedent whatsoever. History and civilization literally began in Sumer and the Sumerian knowledge and traditions would eventually be passed down to the Israelites. Keep in mind, the term Israelites came into being after Abraham. Before that they were known as Hebrews and in Abraham’s early days they lived in Sumer and were known as Sumerians. Yes, the Israelites were Sumerians.
Reinterpreting the Word of God
So when Judaism became a formal religion in the first century BC, the Levite priests reinterpreted the creation story to suit their new ideology (monotheism). At that time, Jehovah/Yahweh was converted from a tribal god (one of many) to the one and only god. However, if one understands that the Old Testament creation story is a retelling of Sumerian writings then it gives you a totally different picture of the genesis of man. Later, when Christianity subsequently adopted the Old Testament as gospel, they also accepted (unbeknownst to them) the old Sumerian gods which had been morphed into a single monotheistic god by Judaism. Oh, the strange twist and turns of biblical reinterpretation!
To complicate matters further, the Sumerian gods were not actually gods at all, but rather actual flesh and blood beings who looked very similar to us (homo sapiens). We know that because we have pictures which the Sumerians drew of their gods, along side of humans. The Sumerian writings clearly reflect that it was the Sumerian gods who created mankind, and not some divine Creator. All of which means that we really were created in the image and likeness of the “gods”.
Aside: It’s no wonder that that part of the story had to be suppressed because how could you have possibly built a religion around it.
However, that’s just the beginning of the story. Christianity became a formal religion in the 4th century AD. Some of the basis for their belief system comes from the New Testament. Here’s where things get very interesting. During that time, it was traditional for religious works to be written in what is referred to as a midrashic style of storytelling (e.g. see 2 Chronicles 24:27, International Standard Version). Midrash was a style of writing in which an old story is retold using contemporary figures. As such, it was never intended to be a history lesson. Actually, just the opposite was true as the writer would use a reconstructed story to drive home a point about morality. Therefore, these stories could not be read verbatim and were never intended to be taken literally. The true story was hidden beneath the surface and could only be understood by a handful of people who were spiritually advanced. Even Jesus’ disciples were unable to understand his parables.
Aside: Parables is a good example of midrashic writing and it was used extensively in both the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus.
Yet, despite this, a whole religion (Christianity) grew up around these gospel stories. One has to ask how was it possible for this to have happened. The answer is remarkably very simple – very few people understood the real message of the gospels and those that did intentionally left the masses in the dark. Further, the teachings of Jesus are, for the most part, not even included in the Bible. Actually, many of the writings about Jesus, for example the Gospel of Thomas, were intentionally left out of the Bible. After all, we wouldn’t want everyone to know about a mystical Jesus who taught about matters of the spirit (rather than the physical world), would we?
In the final analysis, neither Jesus nor the disciples ever taught Christianity. They were Jews and they followed the Torah. So the Old Testament was never about salvation but rather about the Law (the Torah). As for Christianity itself, it began as Roman Catholicism after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, under the auspices of Emperor Constantine. It was conceived as a pagan-type religion so it could become the Roman imperial theology, a religion which would appeal to most Roman citizens (i.e. gentiles). As for modern-day Christianity, it has been about Christ in name only (i.e. accept Christ as your personal savior and be saved). Therefore, since you are already assured of salvation, there is no need for you to live your life based upon the teachings of Jesus.
Down through the ages, esoteric wisdom has always been reserved for the select few and therefore hidden from those who were not spiritually prepared to receive it. I refer to it as the “secret religion”. This secret wisdom, whether taught by Krishna, Buddha, Plato or Jesus was always conveyed behind a veil of allegory and symbolism. So, of course, it had to be withheld from the masses (see Ephesians 3:3,5; Romans 16:25; Corinthians 2:6-8 and Matthew 13:11). By definition then, the mysteries of the Kingdom of God could never have been included in the Bible. The Bible was intended solely for the masses, whereas this secret wisdom was taught, as church father Clement of Alexandria said, “to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.”
Like Adam and Eve, before they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, the vast majority of people today are spiritually naked. Their understanding of God is based solely on church dogma and a holy book. Those who know better would like to keep it that way. They prefer that the masses never learn about any secret religion. But, of course… now you know.
“ If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.”
It seems that Voltaire got it half right. To be more precise, though, God does exist but man invented him anyway. Isn’t reinterpretation a wonderful thing?
The “Anatomy of a Biblical Mystery” sounds like something out of a Dan Brown bestseller. Well, sort of. Actually, the bestseller is the Bible and the mystery is how the dogma of Christianity was developed – and when.
A number of heavy hitters have weighed in on this topic, as follows:
- Brian McLaren, a Christian pastor and theologian, said, “One of the problems is that the average Christian in the average church who listens to the average Christian broadcasting has such an oversimplified understanding of both the Bible and of church history – it would be deeply disturbing for them to really learn church history.”
- John Allegro, a Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, said that the Scrolls provide overwhelming evidence that “…may upset a great many basic teachings of the Christian Church….”
- The Vatican has publicly stated that Christians will eventually need to reevaluate their faith and come to a new understanding of the Bible.
So why does Brian McLaren believe that Christians don’t understand their own religion and why does the Vatican state that Christians will have to learn the true meaning of the Bible? Those are pretty sweeping statements. What is it that Christians have not been told? Since the Vatican has yet to make a detailed public disclosure about their message (other than extraterrestrials are for real), let me try to fill in some of the blanks.
Biblical scholars have confirmed that the doctrines of the Christian Church have very little in common with the teachings of Jesus.
This all sounds boring enough, perhaps, until you start looking for clues in the least likely of places – the Bible itself. The gospels are considered to be the heart and soul of Christianity so one should expect to find the central tenets of the faith to be contained therein. That’s where the mystery begins. So let’s do a little sleuthing.
Mysteries, especially murder mysteries, usually require that one develop a timeline in order to understand what happened. With respect to Christianity, the timeline for the first 1,200 years after the Council of Nicaea (in 325 AD) is rather interesting as church doctrine at that time included the Immaculate Conception, the infallibility of the Pope and even certain books of the Bible which were later banned by Protestant denominations. That’s because for the first 1,200 years of Christianity, Christianity was the Roman Catholic Church (and, conversely, the Roman Catholic Church was Christianity). In other words, the Roman Catholic Church was the Word of God for all practical purposes. Today, however, many Christians deny anything Catholic which allows them to define the Word of God their way. The problem is that there is no universal agreement within Christianity as to what exactly defines the Word of God. For example, the Southern Baptists can’t even agree with the Baptists.
The more important timeline, though, is the one from the crucifixion of Jesus to the Council of Nicaea, a period of about three hundred years. After the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples continued to follow Judaism. The Torah was still their holy book. The stories about Jesus were spread to the general populace via oral tradition. In that regard, the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:1-4) states that there were several accounts of Jesus’ life at the time that the Gospel of Luke was written. So which one(s) do you suppose made it into the Bible and which ones got left out?
They say that history is written by the victors. Of course, that’s true of holy books as well. Accordingly, the Bible is a highly questionable work. The reason is that there are no bibles that predate the Council of Nicaea (the victors). Two of the oldest and most respected bibles are the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus both of which were written in Greek in the middle of the fourth century.
However, neither the Codex Sinaiticus nor the Codex Vaticanus include the last twelve verses of Mark (because those verses were added at a later date). Of what importance is that, you might ask? Well, without the last twelve verses of Mark, the only reference in the gospels to the ascension is Luke 24:51, which has only a passing comment about Jesus going to heaven (without any elaboration or explanation). So a central tenet of Christian faith is essentially missing from the Gospels.
Aside: It’s kind of interesting that in the additional verses added to Mark it says that Jesus ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of the Father. After all, who observed this? I mean who was in heaven to know that Jesus sat next to God and that he specifically sat on the right side of God. Furthermore, how could you possibly give such a commentary without covering the real story – describing God himself?
The thing that people keep forgetting is that the Scriptures can only be viewed, and understood, through a Jewish lens. After all, the Bible was essentially written by Jews, about Jews and for Jews. Since the disciples were Jewish, the central tenet of faith of the disciples was the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), not the Bible. The only religion that the disciples ever espoused was Judaism and they continued to operate under the Mosaic Law long after the Resurrection. Christianity would only come later, as Paul spread the Good News to gentiles.
Of course, Paul was also Jewish and it was Judaism that he taught in the synagogue. In order to attract gentile converts, Paul liberalized Judaism by freeing it from the Torah. Without the Torah, however, the Judaism of the disciples effectively ceased to exist. Christianity took its place and became, in essence, a new pagan religion which maintained some of the old pagan heritage, including the following:
- Christmas was celebrated on December 25th, the day which originally honored the birth/rebirth of the pagan sun god. Note: The birthday of Jesus was celebrated on January 6th until the 4th century and January 6th is still observed today by some Christian groups.
- The observance of the Sabbath on Sunday (as opposed to Saturday which was observed by the disciples, inasmuch as Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath). This was a result of a Roman imperial decree in the 4th century.
- Easter, celebrating the resurrection of the sun(son) god.
While the Dead Sea Scrolls show that Christianity had Jewish roots, a Jewish religion would never have been accepted by an anti-semitic world (read: the Roman Empire); however, Christianity could be made palatable enough to be accepted by gentiles if it were to be completely removed from its Jewish origins. So, in the 4th century (300 years after Jesus), a Hellenized version of Christianity would be declared to be the Roman imperial theology and from that point on the Bible would be reinterpreted through gentile eyes. As a result, the Christian messiah was unrecognizable from the one that the Jewish disciples were expecting. So what was once a form of Judaism was now Christianity and what was once the teachings of Jesus was replaced by church dogma and as for Jesus, himself, he had been morphed from a Jewish messiah into a universal savior for all men.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
– 2 Timothy 4:3-4